You’re Next (2013)

The Animals are at Your Door in Adam Wingard’s Reinvention of the Home Invasion Genre!

It has been a good summer for horror fans. Little, modestly budgeted shockers like “The Purge,” “The Conjuring” and now, “You’re Next,” have held their own with the season’s mega-budget blockbusters both with critics and at the box-office.

You’re Next” invades the multiplex this weekend to give horror fans one last stab at gory fun before the fall movie season sets in. Adam Wingard’s (“V/H/S”) blackly comedic slasher flick actually has influences much earlier than “Straw Dogs” and the current trend of home invasion movies like “The Strangers.” Essentially, “You’re Next” is a modern, extremely gory version of the “Old Dark House” movies popular in the 1930’s.

Just like in those creaky, old mansion set mysteries of the past, “You’re Next” involves a large group of family and strangers meeting in an isolated house for some type of reunion, who one by one meet their demise at the hands of a mysterious killer or killers. Each of the characters harbors secrets. Some of them aren’t who they appear to be, and there’s a family fortune waiting for the survivors.

The story follows two characters played by AJ Bowen (“House of the Devil”) and Sharni Vinson (“Bait”) as Bowen’s character, Crispian Davison, is bringing his girlfriend home to meet his wealthy family over a holiday weekend at their remote estate. Vinson’s character, Erin, more or less becomes the audience identification character as the outsider amid the eccentric members of this dysfunctional clan.

During a dinner conversation, one of the guests is killed by the bolt of crossbow shot through the window, and all Hell breaks loose. The family is being stalked by strangers wearing creepy animal masks who’ve managed to block all cell phone signals, leaving everyone trapped in the old dark house fighting for their lives.

What these cold blooded, mask wearing killers haven’t counted on is that Erin has a past she hasn’t come clean about to even Crispian yet, and she is fully capable of fighting back.

“You’re Next” delivers a tight 95 minutes of gory fun juiced up with a few subversive laughs, but I can’t help but feel its charms have been a little over hyped over the last few months as it has played numerous film festivals to much applause. If you’re someone who has somehow not been exposed to the rave reviews coming out of the early screenings, you might get more excited about the resulting film than I did. Don’t get me wrong, I did have fun with “You’re Next,” but as the first theatrical horror film I saw after “The Conjuring,” I was little let down. I’m more of a sucker for supernatural horror, however, so keep that in mind when gauging my opinion in this case.

I did enjoy the ensemble cast and crew who represent somewhat of a family horror film unit. Many of the actors, writers and producers involved were also involved in “House of the Devil” (2009). “The Innkeepers” (2011), the “V/H/S” films and several other indie modern indie horror films. It was nice to see them bring in genre veterans like Barbara Crampton (“Re-Animator,” “From Beyond”), who plays the family matriarch.

I also really enjoyed the electronic synth score credited to Mads Heldtberg, Jasper Justice Lee and Kyle McKinnon. The music is a total throwback to the kind of 80’s horror scores composed by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth, and it’s a fantastic sonic breath of fresh air.

Maybe my reaction to “You’re Next” was influenced by the audience I saw it with. I saw “The Conjuring” twice in the theater, and both times you could couldn’t cut the tension in the theater with a knife. The audience I saw “You’re Next” with last night seemed somewhat subdued by comparison. I also found myself questioning the logic of some of the characters, particularly the mask wearing killer with the crossbow who insisted on wearing a mask he could probably barely see through into a dark basement after our heroine long past the point of actually needing to wear the mask. I suppose he prefers looking creepy over actually being able to hit anything!

“You’re Next” is fun, however, and clever in its own way. It’s just a little over hyped for its own good.

The Phantom of The Ville

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